Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) is a member of a secret society which helps to keep order in the world by putting the right people in the right places to ensure the world keeps turning. However, not everything is under his control and after an attack, Orlando’s wife dies in his arms leaving him and his son, Conrad (Harris Dickinson) to keep fighting the good fight.
The thing is though that just before she died, Orlando made a promise to keep their son out of danger and to never see war again – although that’s easier said than done. Especially when there’s an evil cabal bent on world domination and war.
The King’s Man is a prequel to the Kingsman franchise which sets out to explain how everything started for the secret organisation. However, this prequel does things differently than the previous movies in the franchise which may surprise some members of the audience and deter others. Gone are the gadget laden set pieces and the far from subtle comedy, instead the Kingsman prequel has decided to take a more serious tone. So, those expecting to raise a smile while the action takes place may be disappointed.
Having been delayed several times, even before the pandemic took hold, The King’s Man may have been a troubled production from the start. As mentioned earlier, the different tone that the prequel takes may have rubbed audiences the wrong way which may have led to reshoots and edits, but it seems that the final product may have been an edit too far.
This results in the story being uneven where characters are set up and relationships are formed, but with very little for the audience to hold on to. This is because where it seems that the audience are meant to feel strongly for certain characters, the chance for an emotional impact is lost because it just doesn’t feel like enough has been built to warrant it.
Also, it feels as if the filmmakers wanted to make something significant out of the villain’s reveal, as for most of the film the villain is shot from behind, in shadow or wearing a mask. Unfortunately, when it does come time for that reveal it feels underwhelming, which again may be a result of editing a little too much out of the film.
At a runtime of two hours and ten minutes it does make the audience wonder what was cut as it feels that The King’s Man may be too long already. The mixture of action and real-world historical events don’t really work either and may only benefit those who are well read in that time in history. Despite a couple of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameos and fun performances from Rhys Ifans and Tom Hollander, it turns out that The King’s Man is far from enough to save a flagging franchise.
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